Random Harvest Newsletter - August 2015

Posted On: Saturday, August 1, 2015

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

I am not sure where to start this month.  I bought a new camera for Jeffrey and gave the old one to Ruben to use. 

Between them they have taken so many beautiful pictures that I would like to share with you that I think this is going to be a marathon newsletter. 

We have also been so busy doing some of my many projects which I can’t wait to tell you about

In The Nursery

Women’s Day

All the ladies that visit on Women’s Day the 9th August and the public holiday 10th August will receive a beautiful Lachenalia bulb in full flower.  They grow quite well in shade and you can put it on your patio or in a spot where you regularly sit so you can enjoy it. 

We are also serving a few new cakes in the tea garden on these 2 days as well as other specials.

We look forward to you visiting us and hopefully the weather will be kind and you can relax and enjoy the nursery and the birds.

Bird Walk

The next Bird Walk with Andre will be on Sat. 15th August.  Hopefully you will see some of the special birds that were seen on the SARDA bird Walk.
Time: 7.00 for 7.30
Cost: R100.00 per person this includes the Walk, Welcoming coffee and homemade biscuits and a hearty breakfast.
Booking Essential:   Call David or Ruben on 082-553-0598

New Truck

I am so excited. 

We bought a new Toyota Dyna and a Toyota Hilux (talk about extravagant) but I was really overrun by vehicle problems. 

I decided to go this route it is important to us to be able to do quick and efficient deliveries for my customers.

Trip Adviser

David and I are delighted – the Bed and Breakfast cottages received a certificate of excellence from one of the world’s top travel websites ‘Trip Adviser’.

David and the guys do such a sterling job of caring for our customers and keeping the cottages clean, comfortable that I was as excited for them as I was for myself. 

It seems our Four Stars from the Grading Council are well earned.

25th Birthday Celebrations

We celebrate our 25th birthday this year, and are planning big things in the nursery to get into the spirit of celebration. 

We have moved the succulent display as we are planning a sculpture garden in its place.

The new display is looking great – pop in and come and have a look.

Please check our Facebook page and Website for the programs we are planning for our birthday in October.

See the full program of Birthday Celebrations Events

New Pots

Some of our pots for the new season have arrived. 

The terracotta pots in the picture are really good quality hand thrown pots that come from KZN.

We have also sourced some really well priced machine made terracotta pots. 

Certainly economical if you have lots of plants that need pots.

Next week the rest of the pots should arrive, so you will have a good selection to choose from.

Fibreglass creatures

New stock of these amazing fibreglass models is now in.  

You can see just how realistic they are from this picture of one of a Crowned Lapwing in amongst the plants. 

I am not a huge fan of garden ornaments but do love these.

Domestic Gardener Training

This training resumes at the nursery this season on the 21st August.

The dates for the remainder of 2015 are 23rd October and 20th November
 
Lindsay Gray, together with her facilitator, will ensure that your gardener is well versed, at the end of the day, in the practicalities of caring for your garden the natural way, as well as some basic design skills and some tips for propagating from seed and cuttings.

Applications are already rolling in for the August course.

The cost of the course is R650. Contact either David on 082-553-0598 or Lindsay on 082 44 99 237 or email [email protected] to book

Upgrade of Compost Area


We decided that the area where we keep the compost in the nursery was looking really scruffy, so have built a new purpose area for it.  Cecil found some guys who do amazing stone cladding and must say I am chuffed to bits with it.

Plants Looking Good

The Hermannia saccifera (Komynbossie) are looking as pretty as ever. 

This versatile, waterwise groundcover for sunny areas looks beautiful hanging over a retaining wall, in a container and scrambling amongst rocks.

I probably go on about the indigenous Jasminum multipartitum (Starry Jasmine) every spring but they are just such a joy with their cheerful, sweet smelling flowers.

This tough, versatile, evergreen climber can be either trained up a trellis, to cover a pergola or even trimmed into a shrub. 

It also makes a beautiful container plant.

Now is the time for the spring flowers to start. 

The hybrid Gazania Gazoo which are tough and very floriferous are the first to bloom and are looking great. 

This tough, drought resistant groundcover needs well drained soil and not too much water. 

Beware of overwatering them.

Pavonia praemorsa (Yellow Pavonia) is a wonderful medium sized shrub that can be used in small spaces as it is upright growing and does not take up too much space. 

It can also be successfully pruned to keep to the size and shape you require. 

Its cheerful pale yellow hibiscus-type flowers and glossy, small leathery leaves make this a plant of joy.


This picture taken in the nursery of a mixed planting dispels any misconception that winter gardens are dull. 

Many of the Vygies are also blooming. 

This picture is of the beautiful Lampranthus coralliflorus (Cliff Vygie) which actually tolerates and flowers in quite a lot of shade.

On The Farm

I learned something really interesting about parasitic plants this month and would like to share it with you. 

Tapinanthus oleifolius (Lightening Matches) is only a partial parasite which takes moisture from the tree it grows on.  I had not noticed that it had leaves and therefore manufactures its own food.  

We found some of its seeds with a little radical (called a haustoria) which drills into the wood of its host to tap into the water carrying tissue.  Amazing to think that this small green shoot is capable of going through the bark. 

The pictures are of the (a) seed, (b) the gall which forms where the root enters the host and (c) the flowering plant. 

I hope you find this as fascinating as I have.  No matter how much you observe nature there is always something new to learn.

The birds have been really active this month. 

The bird walk in aid of South African Riding for the Disabled saw some really interesting species including the Grey Headed Bush Shrike. 

When a customer told me they had seen him I was a little sceptical, and for this I wish to apologise. 

Nevertheless it was hugely exciting and I hear him early in the mornings. 

Unfortunately Jeffrey has not managed to get a picture of him yet.

They also saw a lot of birds at the dam including this Night Heron out in the open.

The other bird that is really vocal in the mornings with his noisy distinctive call is the Brown Hooded Kingfisher. 

Talking of bird calls I heard the Burchell’s Coucal this week. This is the call of spring. 

The birds are definitely getting a little noisier in the mornings and the Weavers are getting their breeding colours. 

 

Green Backed Night Heron

Brown Hooded Kingfisher

Groundscraper Thrush

Bar-throated Apalis

Tawny Flanked Prinia

Black Collared Barbet

African Olive Pigeon

Cape Turtle Dove

More sure signs that warmer weather is on the way.

One of the birds we normally only see in winter, the Groundscraper Thrush, is getting more and more conspicuous with each passing year.

I love the Bar-throated Apalis.  I will always associate the Psydrax obovata (Quar) with this tiny bird as that was the tree in which I first saw him. 

For all his tiny size he is really cheeky. 

Jeff got a beautiful picture of yet another cheeky tiny bird - a Tawny Flanked Prinia.  Just go near the nest or interfere with the nest of these birds and they turn into miniature monsters – dive bombing you and yelling at you.  I love their incredible courage.

The Black Collared Barbet are also very vocal at the moment.  This also tells me that their breeding season is on the way and with it comes summer.

Jeff saw a lovely African Olive Pigeon.  I wonder what he is after.  I will have to prospect around to check what is in fruit.

Jeff also found this sunbirds nest stitched with spider webs close to the office.  I am not sure if it is being used at the moment but we will keep checking.

Talking about the coming spring.  Can you believe this Cape Turtle Dove is already sitting on eggs.  I think it is a bit early to have laid their eggs already.

I just love that the birds announce the changing seasons.  I also think I am the lucky one that lives in a place that I can see and hear all the changes with each season.

Can you believe there is a Hadeda Ibis visiting the feeding station? 

It is definitely not seed that he is eating, so it must be that he is picking up the bits of suet balls that fall as the other birds are feeding. 

The birds are now feeding in layers around the tree with the feeders. 

I am sure this is in response to the onset of spring.

We got this picture of a Black Shouldered Kite perching and casting his eagle eye around for prey.  This tiny little bird of prey is an efficient hunter.

 

Talking of hunters I have found the remains of a few ground living birds on the farm but have not been able to identify what it is that is hunting them. 

I think it may be the Jackal which has been quite vocal.  I just hope it is not feral cats although I have not seen any lately.

It is nice to see that it is not only the children that love the sandpit but the Grannies as well. 

She seemed to be having as much fun as the children. 

I think it is great and we should all get in touch with our inner child on a regular basis.

I have definitely got the gardening bug and pulled the garden in front of the office to pieces. 

It is years since I did anything there.

I left the trees and nice big shrubs but replaced everything else. 

I planted it up with Arums and Fragile Crassula which I think will look great when they mature. 

Let’s watch this space and see if I am right or not.

The short course on how to design and use a website was a great hit with the people who attended including William. 

His mind was completely blown by the level of information that was offered and he has vowed to attend the next one just to cement his knowledge.

I am passionate about teaching my staff new skills and am lucky to have Mike working here who is also committed to training. 

He does English lessons with them each morning. 

It seems to have made a big difference to their lives.

I am so proud of my staff when the put this training into practice. 

Together with Green Inc. (landscape architects) Random Harvest donated trees to a school in Rabie Ridge. 

William was asked to talk to them about indigenous trees and how to plant them. 

His first public talk.  I think he surprised himself on how well he did.

The bull has been causing a lot of trouble in the nursery and we have had to repair the fence around our grey water reticulation system and put additional poles in to keep him out of the nursery.

I have been trying to clean the water we use in the laundry so that we can reuse it. 

I thought I was doing quite well until I saw the algae in the dam where I have been sending the so called ‘clean’ water to. 

There are obviously still too many phosphates in the water.

Once again this turns into a huge job and I have had to build an additional pond with plants in it to take out all the excess phosphates.

Thanks to Thabo and Hope who did all the heavy digging.

Finally, after lots of ups and downs, and having to import heating cables from the UK our mist house is operational again and ready to take the millions of cuttings we hope to do this season. 

I have high hopes for all the new species we are hoping to be able to offer.

I am showing you a picture of this insidious and revolting alien creeper - Araujia sericifera (Moth Catcher). 

It is popping its fluffy white seeds all over and has been doing so for the last few months.

It is so insidious and sometimes you only see it when it is over the tops of the trees.

Please dig it out wherever you see it as it really damages the environment.

But now let’s talk of more pleasant things like the chickens scratching in the kraal manure for juicy worms.  

After they are done scratching in the manure it goes onto our compost to help get the composting process going.

Isn’t he a handsome rooster?

I loved this picture that Jeff took of the mist over

the dam on one of the cold mornings we have had. 

I am so lucky to have Jeffrey who looks at the world with the same eyes as mine to share these moments with.

And finally!

The last of the pictures I want to share with you this month.  Some plants that are looking beautiful on the farm.

These Aloe greatheaddi (Kleinaalwyn) are still in bloom on the bank as you walk down to the dam.

The Brachylaena discolour (Coastal Silver Oak) is blooming in one of the windbreaks near the compost heaps.

Lastly one Erythrina acanthocarpa (Tambookie Thorn) is blooming early near Yellowwod cottage with its handsome red and yellow flowers. This is the pic at the very top of the newsletter.

This must be the most expensive plant I have ever grown.  I drove all the way to Stutterheim to collect a friend who knew where these rare plants grow. 

We then drove back to Queenstown where they grow and I then took him back to Stutterheim. 

With all our searching we only managed to find 8 seeds – try and compute that into price per plant.

All I can say is when you are plant mad, you are plant mad and there is nothing you can do about it.

I should have some for sale next year which are the progeny of these.

Remember to keep watching our Facebook page and website for details of all the exciting things we will be doing in October.

Hope to see you soon.

Sincerely

Linda

Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]


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